By Larry P. Vellequette, Crain News Service
DETROIT (May 22, 2013) — Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has issued a written apology to an Italian-American anti-bias organization for saying at the Detroit auto show that an Alfa Romeo needed a "wop" engine.
Mr. Marchionne, an Italian-born Canadian citizen, issued the apology this month to the Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition for his comments in January, which he explained had been delivered "in jest." He acknowledged his remarks were unacceptable and apologized to anyone who may have been offended.
ONE VOICE, based in Bloomfield, N.J., is dedicated to fighting bias, discrimination, and stereotyping of Italian Americans. It had objected to the pejorative comment shortly after Mr. Marchionne made it and demanded an apology. The organization thanked Mr. Marchionne, Chrysler and Fiat for responding to its concerns.
Mr. Marchionne was commenting about the Alfa 4C, due in auto dealerships in the U.S. this year, and troubles that engineers were having tuning the vehicle.
"I won't put an American engine in that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine," Mr. Marchionne said in January.
The incident wasn't the first time the Chrysler-Fiat boss has gotten himself in hot water over his colorful remarks. In February 2011, he referred to the high interest rate Chrysler was paying the U.S. and Canadian governments as "shyster rates."
The next day, he issued a statement saying he regretted the remark and said it was inappropriate.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.